So you have decided to get health insurance in Panama.
And you understand your health insurance options.
How Do You Choose Which Insurance Plan To Buy?
In this post, I cover:
- International Health Insurance (why, limits, & companies)
- Domestic Health Insurance (why, limits, & companies)
- An Insurance Broker’s Recommendation
International Health Insurance
More and more expats in Panama are choosing international health insurance. One reason is that the local policies have become more limited. More importantly, international health insurance covers you even when you are traveling, offers a wider network of doctors and hospitals, and offers a higher coverage amount.
Typical Limits – International Insurance Policy
- Worldwide coverage (can exclude the US for a big cost savings)
- $1 – 5 million lifetime limit
- $1,000-5,000 annual deductable
- In Panama, choose from any doctor or hospital
- Out of Panama, only select network of doctors and hospitals
International Health Insurance Companies
Here are some International companies to check out.
- GeoBlue (a blue cross company)
- BUPA Global
- Seven Corners
- Aetna International
- WorldWide Medical Assurance Corp
- Allianz Worldwide
Save Money Don’t Have USA Coverage
The policies are less expensive if you exclude coverage in the USA. You can include coverage in the USA, but it tends to double or almost double the policy cost.
When traveling to the US, whether you are US citizen or not, you can simply buy travel insurance for the specific time you will be in the States. This works well if you will be in the States for under 3 months. Also, I have heard that the International insurance company, Cigna, allows you to add up to 3 months of coverage in the States for a reasonable price.
For the questions you should ask before you buy insurance, click here.
Domestic Health Insurance
Hospital-based policies and local HMO-style insurance policies offer coverage only in Panama. If you don’t plan on travel much outside of Panama, or are have insurance back “home”, it can be a good option. It is generally cheaper. However, most will not accept new applicants after the age of 65.
Typical Limits – Domestic Insurance Policy
- $300,000 – $500,000 lifetime limit
- $300 – $500 annual deductible, depending on your premium
- No new applicants age 66 or older
- Limited to a select group of doctors, hospitals, and labs for local HMO, or to a specific hospital for a hospital-based policy.
If you do decide to go outside the HMO group you are reimbursed for only 60% of what would have been paid to the preferred provider.
If you are over 65, you will have to look into an International insurance company that accepts new applications 66 years old and older.
Domestic Health Insurance Companies
Here are some International companies to check out.
- Suramericana de Seguros (Sura)
- Seguros Mapfre
- Aseguradora Ancon
- Seguros Vivir
Don’t know if you need health insurance? Ask yourself these 3 health and financial questions to find out.
A Broker’s Recommendation.
Cari Collins is an insurance broker I often see recommended on various Facebook groups and forums. I reached out to her and asked for her advice for expats looking for health insurance in Panama. We had a very friendly exchange. And, importantly, she responded to her email and my questions very quickly.
Cari Collins’ Advice To Expats
The name of the company I represent is Global Health Insurance. I think the name is a good description of what we provide. Not only is health insurance available but also travel medical, property, auto and life insurance.
For medical, I can represent WEA, Cigna, IMG and VUMI, among others. The policy I feel is the best value is WEA.
The things I like about it that you may not find with other insurance plans here in Panama, are:
- All the top hospitals in Panama are included: Punta Pacifica, Punta Paitilla, San Fernando and Hospital Nacional.
- Even if they’re not in the network, you can go to ANY doctor or facility and they will still pay 100% of eligible expenses after your deductible. The only difference between in-network and out-of-network is direct billing.
- You can exclude or include the U.S. If you don’t spend at least several months a year there, it is much more cost effective to exclude it.
- They may cover certain pre-existing conditions. Not a guarantee but most the others won’t consider covering anything pre-existing.
- You fill out a medical questionnaire with your application. They may ask for a doctor’s statement on pre-existing conditions to see what they will and will not cover but if you’re under 65, you don’t automatically have to go to their doctor and get a physical like so many others I’ve heard about.
So many expats visit the U.S. though. If they exclude the U.S. to save money, they still need coverage for those visits back. In those cases, travel medical coverage is a great solution. You can purchase a policy to cover only the days you are visiting. No medical background is needed because no pre-existing conditions are covered. But it will cover any accident or illness incurred during your visit.
The WEA policy that excludes the U.S. combined with an IMG travel medical policy for visits is a great way to make sure your health care costs are covered and because medical costs are so much less in Panama insurance costs are also significantly less.
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